Sunday, October 29, 2006

Fulbright Blog
Date: October 27, 2006
Place: Dhaka

Today was a very exciting day for me for two reasons. First, both of my roommates are out of town so I have the entire apartment to myself... Ahhhhh... My roommates are both very nice, but I have lived alone for 12 years and I really need time to myself.

Second, since both of my roommates are gone, I did not have anyone to translate to my boua for me, so I had to figure out the Bangla on my own. Since today is market (bajar) day, I needed to tell her what to go buy. Using an English-Bangla dictionary, I was able to discover the words for "chicken", "pineapple", "yogurt", etc. I also made my first shopping list in Bangla and Fatima (my boua) could understand it! (I am very proud of myself...)

I also figured out how to ask her to sweep and mop under the furniture (it was pretty gross under there...)

Some other things that I have learned to do since I have been in Bangladesh are:
  1. Take a rickshaw (this is not as easy as it sounds, since none of the drivers speak English and you need to negotiate the price before you start.)
  2. Find my house. You laugh, but the first couple of times it took the taxis an hour to locate my house! There are a few main streets here, but most of the streets, like the one I live on, are smaller backstreets, so you depend on the knowledge of locals to guide you to the right spot. I had to learn pretty quickly how to get home and what to say to drivers to guide them to the right general location. Now, once I am on Ring Road (the main street near my house), I can locate my street and give the driver basic directions (like "go straight", "turn right", "it's here", etc) to get to it (thanks to my friend Jason who gave me a Bangla directions cheat sheet...)
  3. Say "I don't speak Bangla"
  4. Tie a sari
  5. Say "mosquito" (I am being eaten alive by the little buggers!!! It doesn't help that we have a very small pond of stagnant water in front of my house...)
  6. Eat with my hands - I even do it at home now!
  7. Hold hands with a woman while walking down the street. I will admit that this felt very strange at first, but it is quite normal here for members of the same sex - both men and women - to hold each other's hand as they walk down the street. A man holding a woman's hand is strictly taboo, however, as are other public displays of affection between men and women
  8. Count to ten in Bangla

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